How do Christians understand vocation today? Where do people experience God’s call—in relationships, through work, or at church? How can congregations support the callings of all members?
Many Christians who long to understand God’s call for their lives are left on their own. While resources on vocation exist for college students and young adults, there are fewer opportunities for children, youth, older adults, retirees or the elderly to reflect on their callings.
Exploring Vocation in Community was developed in 2011 to serve the broader life of the church and ground the theological work of the Seminars in the lived experiences of Christians in congregations.
To date we have launched two cohorts of five congregations working on vocation. Staff and lay leaders meet in Collegeville to learn about the theology of vocation developing in the Seminars and design a year-long project on vocation for their own community.
Our goal is to collaborate with congregations who want to engage vocation and to learn what happens when communities start exploring questions of calling.
Learn more about the Exploring Vocation in Community project. Read about one participant’s experience in the program, and reflect on a prayer created by leaders working together in Collegeville.
For more information, please contact Laura Kelly Fanucci at email@example.com.
Participant Congregations and Projects
Christ Lutheran Church, Blaine, MN
Collected vocation stories from parishioners to use as video clips during worship
Paired adults with youth in gifts discernment part of confirmation program
Wellesley Village Church, Wellesley, MA
Used Called to Life to create 20-week “GIFTs and cALL” program
Learn about Village Church’s work around gifts and discernment in an interview with their pastor.
Ascension Catholic Church, Oak Park, IL
Used Called to Life with catechists, parents, and schoolteachers
Connected discipleship and vocation through parish stewardship committee
Plymouth Congregational Church, Lawrence, KS
Launched Called to Life group for health care professionals
Offered day of reflection on national health care issues
St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church, Maple Grove, MN
Offered Called to Life as Lenten series for existing small faith communities
Resurrection Lutheran Church, St. Joseph, MN
Focused on vocation during Lent: home devotionals, small groups, Wednesday worship services with professionals sharing how they live out their callings
Organized synod-wide event connecting worship with vocation
Visitation Monastery of Minneapolis, MN
Adapted Called to Life into their Following the Spirit discernment series
Read more about the Visitation Sisters’ work with young people and discernment in this interview.
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Edina, MN
Developed parish-wide retreat based on Called to Life
Offered Called to Work small groups to professionals in congregation
St. Joseph University Parish, Buffalo, NY
Paired community service experiences with vocational discernment for college students
Use Called to Work with students from professional schools
Benedictine Retreat Center of St. Paul’s Monastery, Maplewood, MN
Focused on calling in retreat ministry and spiritual direction
Used vocation as a framework for institutional discernment
What We Are Learning
Worship, preaching, faith formation, adult education and social justice ministries all offer opportunities for exploring God’s call in our lives. Working with congregations on vocation has taught us the following:
- Many Christians in congregations do not have an outdated or unhelpful notion of vocation—instead people are more likely to lack any understanding of the concept.
- While the language of “vocation” can be an initial stumbling block, once people start to explore how God works in their lives, they quickly resonate with the idea of being called to particular work, activities or relationships.
- Vocation is inherently narrative. We learn about ourselves and God by sharing stories from our own lives.
- Participants in our Called to Life and Called to Work programs are quick to connect service and vocation: they feel called to serve others through professional work, family responsibilities, or volunteering in their community.
- Our understanding of vocation is closely linked to our image of God. For example, vocation is understood differently if God is seen as a “planner” who determines each person’s path in life or if God is a “partner” who walks with us as a companion on the journey.
- People are especially hungry for preaching and prayer practices that connect their faith with the challenges of their daily lives and work.
- Sharing stories from professional life in sermons, offering a small group for people facing retirement, and exploring vocation with youth as part of confirmation preparation are all ways to start exploring vocation in the local church. Check out our Lives Explored video project for clips to show in faith formation events.
Contact us for more ideas about exploring vocation within your faith community!